We all know what Tom Steyer thinks — that he can buy the Democratic presidential nomination with a nine-figure investment in the primaries. What’s less clear is why the multibillionaire wants to try it. And now Democrats are becoming more vocal in telling Steyer to butt out, according to Politico, including a reminder of Steyer’s lack of, er, diversity:
“It’s very difficult for me to see the path for Tom Steyer to be a credible candidate,” said Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), who has endorsed Pete Buttigieg. “So yes, I would rather that he spend his money taking back the Virginia House, the Virginia Senate and supporting people who can win.”
“I wish he wouldn’t do it. Especially at this late date,” added Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.), who has endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden. “Things are set except for those who are going to drop out.”
Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio observed that Steyer is basically “another white guy in the race,” albeit a wealthy one who is “a major progressive player.” Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia was mostly perplexed by the wealthy Californian’s entry when asked about it: “I kind of wonder why?”
The most remarkable aspect of this Politico report are the names that are going on the record. Sherrod Brown telling reporters that Steyer’s too pale for Democrats is chef’s-kiss perfection for this cycle, I suppose. Keep in mind that these are the same people who were figuratively planting their lips on Steyer’s backside until recently, hoping to get him to fund the Democrats’ general-election fight.
One explanation for the pushback is that Steyer is currently using his largesse to attack incumbents — Democratic incumbents. He’s still sore that the House hasn’t advanced impeachment, and he’s taking aim at some big names:
“Do I think he’s wasting his money on [impeachment] ads against me? Yes,” said Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), who has not endorsed a presidential candidate and declined to comment on his presidential run.
Steyer has already used his multimillion-dollar impeachment campaign to target prominent House Democrats, including Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler of New York and Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings of Maryland. And he’s floated the idea of turning his financial firepower on Democratic leadership, including Pelosi.
Steyer issued a blunt statement directed at the speaker last week after Democrats voted to kill an effort to immediately launch impeachment proceedings against Trump. Then he dinged Congress on Monday for “going on vacation for six weeks,” calling on Pelosi to cancel the House’s August recess.
No wonder Steyer plans on spending $100 million on the primaries, assuming he gets very far. He won’t have any other allies to pay some of the bills. At the same time, though, don’t forget that Steyer plans to focus on a campaign message of [checks notes, spit-takes] getting money out of politics:
Let’s take our democracy back from corporations and special interests, and give it to the people––the way it was always intended.
I'm excited to meet you on the campaign trail soon. Join us at https://t.co/jXtstPHDwJ
— Tom Steyer (@TomSteyer) July 9, 2019
By running for the Democratic nomination, Steyer is both a “corporation” and a special interest — his own. Nothing says “let’s get the influence of money out of politics” like buying a major-party nomination, I tell ya.
It won’t work, though, because Steyer’s now burning the bridges over impeachment that he painstakingly built with climate change over the last several years. When Steyer realizes this, will he decide to put his money into going the Ross Perot route? If he’s looking to burn down the Democratic Party over his spite about impeachment, he could hardly choose a more effective method.